Burntwood Makery is the workshop & product line of woodcarver joel kroeker.
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It all started with building a guitar. This was really my first introduction to woodworking & i found i really enjoyed the course, especially the parts when i got to use hand tools to shape certain parts of the instrument. I wanted to share this new creative skill with loved ones, so over the course of a year i made my siblings wooden gifts. A sister-in-law requested a wooden mixing spoon. Some friends were interested in trading crafts & almost before i knew it i was prepping for a craft sale. It was at this point that i realized that i was in love.
I have been making wooden spoons & utensils since 2013. I use reclaimed North American woods & found woods from the area in & around Saskatoon, SK, Treaty Six territory.* I use a lot of maple & walnut, but also some birch, cherry, & even caragana when i’m feeling saucy.
The wood burned designs i do take inspiration from objects around me. We have a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt) on my in-laws’ land; the hand-painted motifs call to mind the infinite sky of the Mongolian steppe, an obvious draw for a prairie dweller. I enjoy repetition in my designs, which for me is an homage to many folk art traditions around the world. I use fairly bold lines; if you look at my tattoos, you’ll see why.
I am always refining my technique, but refining can mean different things to different people. Recently i have been trying to do without sandpaper. I have always liked the idea of leaving some trace of my tool marks in every utensil; i think it contributes to the pleasure of each piece, like brushstrokes on a canvas. These pyrographic (wood burnt) & sculptural elements are intended to celebrate & elevate the use of these everyday tools.
When i’m not carving, burning, or doing some other aspect of burntwood, i spend a lot of time at home with my two-year-old daughter, Rehema & my partner, Heather. I also enjoy biking, baking, reading (mostly books on bread), & watching documentaries, romantic comedies, superhero movies & stand-up comedy.
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*Treaty Six is an agreement between the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Dene, & the Canadian government. It encompasses land in what is now Saskatchewan & Alberta.